Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/334

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only be raised on the summit of hills (which retain moisture longer than the lowlands) rising not unfrequently several thousand feet above the sea.

Except at the station and one or two other spots, the extensive grounds are scantily watered and ill adapted for grazing. During our visit, numbers of cattle were dying from starvation. The region is, moreover, in some seasons infected by diseases fatal to beasts of pasture, and these maladies, of late years, have been of so destructive a character as nearly to exterminate the cattle. Indeed, many of the Bastards and Hottentots, who chiefly inhabit these parts, and who were formerly living in great abundance, are reduced to beggary from this cause.

I now determined to leave Hans, and proceed in advance to Cape-Town, with a view of making arrangements about the sale of the cattle and the intended expedition to the Ngami. As we were now in a locality where horses might be obtained, I procured three or four of these animals without delay, partly for cash and partly for cattle. The rate of exchange was from five to ten oxen, according to the qualities of the horse; or, if money, 100 rix doll. (£7 10). A first-rate hack might be purchased for £10, though, of course, high-bred horses were more expensive.

The Cape Colony horse is a wonderful beast. He is supposed to be of Spanish descent, but of late years has been much crossed by various breeds. Without any pretension to beauty, he is, perhaps, unrivaled in docility, hardiness, and endurance. In eight days (one of which was devoted to rest) I rode, accompanied by a Hottentot servant, from near Komaggas to Cape-Town, a distance of upward of four hundred miles by road, thus averaging fifty miles per day. On an after occasion I remember to have performed upward of ninety miles at a very great pace, only once or twice removing the saddle for a few minutes. And be it borne in mind that the animals were young, indifferently broken-in, unshod, and had never been stall-fed.